How far right was that lane again?

April 28th, 2006
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“…Traffic is backed up in the far right shoulder lane…”Captain Kirk, Calgary’s flying traffic radio guy

Some have written that debasement of language coincides with any period of generalized, late-civilizational cultural confusion and self-doubt. Whatever. Bad English just bugs us.

And here’s yet another example of a superfluous needless extra redundancy. “Far right shoulder lane”, indeed. What other lane could he mean? That middle lane with a special shoulder beside it? The really close right lane? The isolated shoulder with no lanes beside it?

It’s usually easy to figure out if you’ve uttered a redundancy: just remove the first word and add a different qualifier. E.g., “I visited five different provinces.” Try substituting “the same” for “different”, then say it out loud.

Let’s get real. A four-lane (i.e., two lanes each way) roadway has a right lane and a left lane in each direction. No need to add adjectives. A six-lane highway has a left, a centre and a right lane. Even if you see three lanes in front of your nose, there’s still no “far-left” or “far-right” lane.

For the rare occasion when a Calgarian might encounter an eight-lane roadway (not counting the “merge” lane, which has its own name), you’d have a left, a centre-left, a centre-right and a right lane. Alternatively, you could say centre-left and left-shoulder, etc. Still no “far right shoulder” lane.

The rest is just verbal babble. Does it betray a general lack of confidence in a progressively more chaotic culture? Probably it’s just mentally lazy.

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